10 Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

keyword research mistakes to avoid

When it comes to crafting impactful digital content, learning proper keyword research is non-negotiable.

Keywords are like compasses that guide potential readers straight to your website’s doorstep.

But beware — this path is fraught with pitfalls that could prevent you from connecting with your target audience.

As we navigate this tricky terrain together, I’ll highlight some all-too-common keyword research mistakes to avoid.

These missteps not only waste precious time but also resources — and let’s face it, who wants that?

From overestimating broad terms to neglecting long-tail gems, these mistakes can keep even great content from seeing the light of day.

Stick around, and I’ll walk you through dodging common pitfalls like ignoring search intent or getting seduced by high-volume keywords without a game plan. You’ll get why long-tail keywords can be pure gold and the secret sauce of localizing search terms.

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Table Of Contents:

1. Ignoring Search Intent

When it comes to keyword research, one of the most common mistakes is ignoring search intent.

What does this mean?

It’s about understanding why a user is performing a specific search and what they’re hoping to find as a result.

For instance, ranking #1 for a term that doesn’t lead to any sales might seem like an achievement but in reality, it could be more detrimental than beneficial for your business. This happens when you focus solely on how many people use a certain search term rather than considering their underlying motive or intent.

A classic example would be targeting keywords such as “how to clean Nike shoes”. Users typing these words into the search bar are probably not looking to buy new shoes; instead, they want information on maintaining the ones they already own.

You can still utilize such terms intentionally in your content strategy – maybe as part of building trust with potential customers who may convert later down the line.

But remember: relevance and conversion should always take precedence over volume alone when conducting keyword research.

2. Allowing Clients to Choose Keywords

Another common — and detrimental — mistake in keyword research is not conducting any at all, or worse yet, allowing clients to dictate which keywords should be targeted.

While client input can certainly provide valuable insights into their industry and customer base, these suggestions must be treated as just that — suggestions.

All too often, clients suggest keywords that are either far too broad for effective targeting or don’t align with search intent.

For example, a small local bakery might insist on targeting the term “bread” – a keyword so broad and competitive it would be nearly impossible for them to rank highly in search results.

In other instances, business owners may choose terms based on what they think their customers want rather than relying on data-driven evidence. This approach is problematic because it relies heavily on assumptions rather than actual user behavior.

Keyword research should always be guided by data — using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, or Content at Scale (powered by Mangools) can help identify keywords that are relevant to your product or service offering while also providing insight into competition levels.

The key takeaway here? Don’t let vanity metrics guide your SEO strategy!

You must base your decisions around reliable data points instead of gut instinct alone.

3. Prioritizing Search Volume Over Keyword Difficulty

When you run a seed keyword through Content at Scale’s keyword research tool, two things need paying attention: 1) monthly search volume, and 2) ranking difficulty.

High-volume keywords are those terms or phrases that get searched frequently by users. It’s easy to assume these are the best targets for your content because they can potentially lead to higher traffic and visibility. But this approach has its pitfalls.

The first issue is competition — high volume means high competition. Every other business in your niche is likely targeting these same popular search terms, making it harder for you to rank well and stand out from the crowd.

The second problem with exclusively targeting high-volume keywords lies in relevance and user intent. Not all people searching using a particular term have identical needs or intentions; some may be looking for information while others might want to buy something specific immediately.

Finding The Right Balance With Mid-Volume Keywords

A more effective strategy involves incorporating mid-volume keyword research into your SEO plan. These words still generate substantial searches but aren’t as competitive as their high-search counterparts – meaning they’re easier (and often cheaper) to bid on when running PPC campaigns.

Furthermore, mid-range search volume typically indicates that a keyword matches specific user intent better than broader ones do. So, by targeting these terms, you’re more likely to attract an audience that’s interested in what your business offers.

Remember, the goal of keyword research isn’t just about chasing high search volumes; it’s about finding relevant keywords that align with your audience’s intent and can help drive quality traffic to your site.

4. Relying on Free Keyword Research Tools

You’ve found a goldmine — a free keyword tool promising to skyrocket your SEO efforts. But hold on.

Free keyword tools can often give you data that’s more fool’s gold than real treasure.

Misleading data from these sources might have you chasing high-volume keywords that are not what they seem.

Paying for premium keyword research tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Mangools is an investment in the accuracy of your SEO campaign.

You get what you pay for, as the saying goes, and with paid tools comes a wealth of precise search volumes and insights into SERP competitors — vital intel if you’re serious about ranking high on Google SERPs.

Better data leads to better decisions; think targeted campaigns over shots in the dark. That’s how business owners outmaneuver their competition online today.

5. Targeting Only One Keyword Per Piece of Content

If you’re still sticking to the old-school SEO strategy of targeting just one keyword per page, it’s time to rethink your approach.

The joke about an SEO walking into a bar illustrates how ridiculous and ineffective it can be to stuff unrelated keywords into content. But at the same time, only focusing on one main keyword is equally flawed.

The reason? Google has become increasingly adept at understanding context. Its algorithms have evolved beyond simple keyword matching and now analyze entire phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs for meaning. Therefore, optimizing your content around a single keyword won’t cut it anymore.

Rather than obsessing over individual keywords, try shifting your focus towards secondary keywords that relate to your main idea.

For instance, if you’re writing about ‘keyword research’, don’t limit yourself to just that phrase. Consider related terms like ‘keyword research tools’ or ‘keyword strategies’. This way you’ll not only increase the chances of ranking higher but also provide more comprehensive and valuable information for your audience.

6. Avoiding Long-Tail Keywords

Another common mistake that marketers often make is avoiding long-tail keywords due to their lower search volume.

This avoidance can be a costly error as these long-tail keywords, despite having fewer searches, are usually much closer to the end of the sales funnel. This means users who use such specific terms are almost ready to buy.

Sometimes low search volume can actually work in your favor. The less competition there is for a particular keyword or phrase, the higher the chance you have of ranking well on Google and other search engines.

Ignoring long-tail keywords due to their lower search volume is a common but avoidable mistake. Instead of focusing solely on high-volume terms, try integrating an effective mix of both broad and specific phrases into your keyword strategy.

7. Pushing Exact Match Keywords

Old-school SEO has taught us to push for exact-match keywords in our content. This is why we still see awkward phrases like “best travel agency Orlando” or “computer services Portland” being used verbatim throughout a piece of content.

The truth is, this practice can do more harm than good. Not only does it make your content read poorly, but Google has also evolved far beyond needing exact keyword matches to understand context.

Thanks to advancements in natural language processing (NLP), search engines are now capable of understanding synonyms, related terms, and even conversational queries with ease. This means that you no longer need to stuff your content with awkwardly phrased keywords just for the sake of matching user searches.

Here’s how NLP works: if you search for “SEO agency Chicago”, Google will turn out similar terms such as “Chicago SEO company” or “SEO services in Chicago” instead of results containing an exact word-for-word match.

This shift towards contextual understanding opens up an array of opportunities when it comes to keyword strategy. Instead of focusing solely on exact-match keyphrases provided by clients, you can now explore related terms and phrases that are easier to incorporate into your content naturally.

8. Ignoring Keyword Localization

If you’ve ever scratched your head wondering why your well-crafted content isn’t hitting the mark in different regions, keyword localization might just be the missing piece of your SEO puzzle.

It’s about tailoring your language to the local tune, using phrases and terms that resonate with regional jargon and search habits.

Gone are the days when one-size-fits-all keywords ruled our content strategies. Now, we get cozy with local intent keywords because let’s face it, a ‘sub’ is not a ‘hoagie’ everywhere you go.

To capture that homegrown vibe and satisfy localized palates, create content that’s sprinkled with region-specific terms.

Keyword localization means what works in one city may fall flat in another. By incorporating these geo-specific gems into your strategy, you’re not only speaking their language but also opening doors to communities we might have otherwise missed.

To really nail this approach down tight, start weaving those neighborhood nods throughout your online presence —from blog posts to landing pages to social media shoutouts.

And don’t forget, search engines are pretty smart cookies nowadays. They can sniff out whether you’re genuinely serving up local fare or just pretending from miles away. So while it’s tempting to use high-traffic keywords that Google is suggesting, speak directly to locals who are searching online.

9. Forgetting to Look at the SERPs

As marketers get so engrossed with advanced keyword research tools, they sometimes forget the simple ones: simply looking at the search engine results page.

SERPs offer invaluable insights into what type of content is currently ranking for your target keywords. This information allows you to understand why users are searching for certain terms and how well current top-ranking pages meet their needs.

If you fail to analyze SERPs while doing keyword research, you might miss out on valuable opportunities or create content that doesn’t align with user intent, thereby reducing its effectiveness in attracting organic traffic.

10. Not Talking to Your Customers

In your search for that golden keyword, it’s easy to overlook one critical source of information — your customers.

While SEO tools and analytics can provide a wealth of data, they often lack the human element that tells you how customers perceive your product or service.

To avoid this common mistake, make sure you are actively engaging with your audience and listening closely to how they speak. Whether it’s through customer reviews, social media interactions, or direct conversations via customer support channels, these platforms offer invaluable insights into what words and phrases resonate most with them.

For instance, if you’re selling a “website visitor tracking tool,” but find that many potential users aren’t familiar with this term – perhaps referring instead to ‘web traffic monitor’ – then adjust your keywords accordingly.

Effective keyword research involves much more than just automated tools. It requires active engagement with those who matter most – your customers!

Don’t Let Keyword Research Mistakes Hold You Back

I’ve shown you nine of the most common keyword research mistakes to avoid. Now it’s time to do a reverse.

First, let user intent guide your content — the key to successful keyword research lies in understanding your audience and setting up a strategy that meets their needs.

Remember that long-tail keywords are your secret weapon for targeted traffic, with less resistance.

While keyword research tools can be fascinating, they are not created equal. Invest wisely to sidestep misleading data traps.

Above all else, know that chasing high-volume keywords will get you nowhere if you have to compete in a crowded field.

Stay sharp by using these insights as cornerstones for building solid SEO foundations — one keyword at a time.

It’s time to build your blog empire.

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with gratitude,

Julia

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